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Nova Scotia increases public gathering limit, eases campground restrictions – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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The Nova Scotia government has increased the number for public gatherings to 10 people under COVID-19 public health restrictions.

The previous maximum was five people. 

Physical distancing of two metres or six feet is still required, except among members of the same household or family household bubble, the provincial Health Department said in a news release. 

The limit is the same indoors and outdoors, with an exception for outdoor weddings and funeral services, which can have 15 people. 

The gathering limit applies to things like social gatherings, arts and culture activities like theatre performances and dance recitals, faith gatherings and sports and physical activity.

“Nova Scotians have done the hard work to flatten our curve and with that, we will soon be getting back to work, eating in restaurants, getting back to the gym and getting haircuts,” said Premier Stephen McNeil in the release. 

“This next step to allow people to gather in slightly larger groups is good for our mental health and well being.” 

 Dr. Robert Strang, the province’s chief medical officer of health, said as we create more opportunities for normal life, “it’s important that we all continue to take protective measures like good hand hygiene, cough etiquette and staying home if you’re sick. It’s also important for people to think about their own health and circumstances in order to make good decisions about the activities they choose to do.” 

The new gathering limit also applies to businesses whose main function is gatherings, such as theatres, concerts, festivals and sporting activities, and to businesses that are too small to ensure physical distancing. 

At a news conference Friday, Strang said if things go well, the gathering limit might be increased to 50 by the end of summer. But it’s not likely Nova Scotia will allow public gatherings into the hundreds this year given that Strang has repeatedly said such numbers, particularly indoors, would present high risks for COVID transmission.  

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The province also announced Friday that private campgrounds will be open to everyone effective June 5. They can only operate at 50 per cent capacity and must ensure public health protocols are followed, including adequate distance between campsites. 

Previously only seasonal camping with fixed recreational vehicle campsites that don’t require the use of onsite amenities such as washroom facilities and stores were permitted.  

Provincial campgrounds will open to Nova Scotians on June 15, with the reservation line opening June 8.

The province said public pools can start maintenance work to prepare for reopening, likely in time for summer, but sleepover camps won’t be permitted this year.

Not enough detail in daycare plan

At the news conference, both Strang and the premier noted the frustration among parents that daycares won’t open until at least June 15. 

Strang said the sector’s reopening proposal lacked sufficient detail to be confident that public health risks would be addressed. 

“Obviously we wanted the daycare centres and the economy … to reopen at the same time,” the premier said. “But when public health comes to me and says the plan is not ready and they need another week, why would I go against that? That is about the safety of our children. Too many provinces have opened their daycares too soon and look what’s happened in those provinces.”

The Nova Scotia NDP has launched a petition calling on the province to pay for sick leave for workers who don’t have it, given the risks of going to work ill and the delay in the daycares opening. 

McNeil said he’s encouraged businesses to work with their employees and address their needs when it comes to schedules. He and other premiers also have asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for federal help with sick leave payments related to COVID absences.

“We also said this was not health-care funding, this was a funding program that the national government should put together on COVID alone. ….

“If there were other sectors looking for sick days from the province,  … they would continue to negotiate that at the bargaining table. I don’t think anybody wants me to negotiate in public, every union I know in the province doesn’t want me to negotiate in public and I won’t.”

No new cases for first time

Earlier Friday, Nova Scotia took a big symbolic step in the COVID-19 pandemic Friday with the report that no new cases had been identified in the latest tests.

The zero-result landmark was reached Thursday after QEII Health Sciences Centre’s microbiology lab completed 1,034 tests, the Health Department said in a news release.

There was also good news at Northwood nursing home in Halifax, which has been the centre of the pandemic.

The number of active resident cases dropped by two for a total of 10 while staff cases remained at four. Out of the 59 deaths provincewide, 52 have been at Northwood.

In a video statement Friday on the Northwood website, medical director Dr. Barry Clarke said he’s never encountered a situation like the outbreak in his 33 years as a doctor. At the outset, he said the facility established a COVID unit onset and prepared for possible infections.

“But (we) had not anticipated the sheer volumes of infections that spread throughout our Halifax facility,” Clarke said.  

Eventually an emergency team including medical staff from the Nova Scotia Health Authority and provincial Public Health was established to deal with the Northwood outbreak. 

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The 14 active cases at Northwood are among 18 provincewide. 

To date, 59 people have died from the virus, including 52 Northwood residents, and 877 have recovered. The QEII lab tests have yielded 40,914 negative COVID-19 results and 1,055 positives since testing began in March. The confirmed cases range in age from under 10 to over 90.

Eight people are in hospital, three of those in ICU. 

Although the lack of new cases is a first during the pandemic in Nova Scotia, health officials have warned that a second outbreak is likely. 

The province announced Wednesday that businesses would be allowed to reopen on June 5.

 A map and graphic presentation of the case data is available at https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/data.

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Woman asked to 'leave the hospital immediately' as she refuses to wear a face mask – Shoreline Beacon

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They told her that official orders have been issued which require everyone to wear face masks,

Anti-face mask supporters seem to be on the rise as another woman who seems to be a face-mask denier was declined for medical treatment upon refusal to wear a face mask inside a hospital.

On Saturday, July 4, a woman in Toronto went into an emergency room at St. Joseph’s Hospital to seek medical treatment for a “suspected broken finger.” However, medical staff at the hospital told her that the Ontario Ministry of Health has ordered face covering for everyone who is inside a hospital.

The woman did not take that well and started filming at the scene.

Letitia Montana, an insurance advisor, who said on Twitter that she is a ‘truther’ and ‘freedom lover’, was visiting the hospital with her child when the incident happened. In the video, Montana is seen questioning the nurse whether a patient is being denied medical assistance because they’re not wearing a face mask, to which the nurse responds in the affirmative. They told her that official orders have been issued that require everyone to wear face masks, especially inside a health care facility.

The incident came in advance of a City of Toronto bylaw that takes effect Tuesday, July 7, and makes face masks mandatory for everyone who visits grocery stores, retailers and hair salons.

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Montana’s posted video now has thousands of comments and retweets from people who are calling her out for being irresponsible and expressing support for the nurses who ensured the safety of patients at the hospital.

But it didn’t stop Montana and on Sunday she shared another video, this time one that alleges that face masks are not required to contain a virus and that they have no health benefits.

Montana wrote that all of this is part of “media’s propaganda.”

“Twitter, I appreciate the attention though frankly, I cannot respond to close to 4,000 replies on my recent tweet. It’s sad how well the mainstream media propaganda is working. I thought we were doing better. In any case, I wish you all well,” she tweeted.

Twitter reacts 

Montana’s video, which has since gone viral, did not receive appreciation. In fact, people were calling her out for irresponsible behaviour and the possibility of endangering other patients at the facility. Many pointed out that “filming inside a hospital is not allowed as it violates the privacy and confidentiality of patients who are at their most vulnerable.”

While some tweets addressed the issue seriously, others had a comical take on it.

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P.E.I. reports two new COVID-19 cases Sunday – The Journal Pioneer

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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

P.E.I. has two new cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain), bringing the total number of active cases to five, the chief public health officer announced on Sunday.

Dr.  Heather Morrison said extensive contact tracing and testing has been underway and will continue.

“We are looking at a cluster of four patients related to a man who had travelled to Nova Scotia and had contact with an individual, who had recently arrived from the United States,” said Morrison.

On Saturday, three cases of COVID-19 were announced, including the man in his 20s, who is asymptomatic, at the centre of this cluster. It also included a woman in her 20s, who is a close contact of the man. The third was a man in his 50s, who is an essential worker that travelled outside the province and has been self-isolating since his return.

“At this point, there is no evidence of community spread of COVID-19 in our province and the risk of transmission of COVID-19 within the province remains low,” said Morrison.

Sunday’s new cases are both men in their 20s who were close contacts with the man, who travelled to Nova Scotia for personal reasons on June 26 and returned on June 29. None of the five cases related to seasonal residents or the Atlantic bubble that opened on Friday.

The weekend cases were the first announced in the province in two months.

“Since the start of the pandemic, Prince Edward Island has had a total of 32 cases of COVID-19. We are taking every precaution to limit the spread of the virus in our province,” said Morrison. “Our system has the capacity to respond effectively and efficiently to this cluster of cases and our response protocols have really worked well in this situation.”

The woman in her 20s went to work at Whisperwood Villa on June 30. She had no close contact with residents and returned home as soon as she began to feel ill.

The woman identified nine close contacts, all of whom tested negative, Morrison said on Sunday. The close contacts will remain in self-isolation for 14 days.

Public health officers tested 129 residents and 140 staff at Whisperwood Villa on Saturday. All tests were negative. They will all be re-tested later this week as an added precaution. The final few residents and staff were expected to be tested on Sunday.

Visitors who were at Whisperwood Villa on Tuesday, June 30, are being contacted to arrange for testing.

Morrison said her team is working closely with the facility and its staff.

“I know that it has been a stressful time for the residents, families and staff of Whisperwood Villa to undergo testing for COVID-19,” said Morrison. “We are taking every precaution to protect residents and staff of Whisperwood Villa and keeping them safe is a top priority.”

She also praised staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital medical laboratory, who completed a record-high number of 406 tests on Saturday.

Morrison then reminded Islanders to remain careful and “stick to the basics” like hand washing and physical distancing.

“We have all observed instances of people not maintaining physical distancing and the public health guidelines. This cluster of cases is a clear reminder that COVID-19 is still very much present in our province and we must remain vigilant.

“Even people in a low-risk category are responsible for making good choices to protect their health and the safety of others. Our actions affect others and everyone is susceptible to COVID-19,” said Morrison.

Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.'s chief public health officer
Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.’s chief public health officer

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P.E.I. reports 2 new COVID-19 cases linked to local man who returned from Nova Scotia – larongeNOW

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“At this point there is no evidence of community spread of COVID-19 in our province and the risk of transmission of COVID-19 within the province remains low.”

Before this weekend, the province’s last COVID-19 positive test came in late April.

Morrison said public health officials in P.E.I. and Nova Scotia have been in close communication to trace the COVID-19 cluster.

The P.E.I. man travelled to Nova Scotia for personal reasons on June 26 and returned to the island on June 29, Morrison said.

He is believed to have come into contact with someone there who had travelled to the U.S.

“This cluster of cases is a clear reminder that COVID-19 is still very much present in our province and we must remain vigilant,” Morrison said.

Morrison said COVID-19 tests were also carried out in relation to the other two COVID-19 cases that were confirmed Saturday.

A man in his 50s who travelled outside the province tested positive for the virus, the P.E.I. government announced Saturday, as did a woman in her 20s who was in contact with the man who travelled to Nova Scotia.

That woman worked at Whisperwood Villa, a seniors’ residence in Charlottetown, and listed nine close contacts — all of whom have tested negative for COVID-19, Morrison said.

Morrison said 140 staff members and 129 residents at Whisperwood Villa were also tested for COVID-19 on Saturday and their results all came back negative.

Four or five staff members and two residents still need to be tested, she said, and all the residents and staff members will be tested again later this week.

People who visited the residence last Tuesday also will be contacted for testing, Morrison added.

She reiterated that the new COVID-19 cases are not related to seasonal residents of P.E.I. or to the Atlantic bubble.

As of Friday, residents of P.E.I., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador have been allowed to travel freely between the provinces without needing to self-isolate upon arrival.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2020.

— By Jillian Kestler-D’Amours in Montreal.

The Canadian Press

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